1MB RAM cartridge not recognized


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I bought a Japanese 1MB RAM cart for my Saturn a while ago so I could play my, erm, backup of Metal Slug.

Sadly, the game boots to a blue screen spewing forth what looks like a complaint (carefully worded in Japanese, and as such eluding my understanding) that involves RAM.

I'm not sure what this means. Tried rebooting many times, doublechecking available gamesave RAM, re-seating the cart, etc., all to no avail.

My Saturn is modded and has a US/JAP region switch. I'd hate to just have to write the cart off as defective (I don't have any other games requiring 1MB to test it with), so I wonder if I could be doing anything else wrong.

Heck, I cleaned the contacts too... Just about everything possible.

Any ideas?
Incompatible cart? I dunno, for not too much more money I opted for the PAR 4-in-1 Plus with the 1/4MB memory. My "backup" of Metal Slug works great. I think I bought it from gamegizmo. Hopefully your cart isn't broken - have you tried cleaning the cart/cart port?
Yes, I have. The one thing I HAVEN'T done yet is open up the cart itself and have a look inside. It's got those damned nut-like screws like the Nintendo NES cartridges do, and although I have a tool for those, it doesn't fit the ones on the Saturn cart.

On that note - I do use a BACKUP cartridge for gamesaves (an original Saturn one) all the time with no problems. It would seem logical to think that the 1MB cart uses some different pins/contacts in the Saturn's cart slot than the backup cart does, although many others would be the same.

I wonder if it's possible that the cartridge port is actually damaged but the damage (bent/broken contacts) only affects the 1MB cartridge.

I don't know what even makes me think of that... but it's a hunch...
Saturns are (in)famous for weak cartridge ports.

It is mostly blamed on unofficial hardware usage :

Some people have argued that since Saturn cartridge port contacts are

made of cheap tin instead of a higher quality material (like gold

which is a much better conductor of electricity), and that the

contacts are much cheaper then that of an NES, SNES, Genesis, ect.,

they were never meant for frequent usage and tend to wear down

faster. This is seen as a cost cutting procedure by Sega, and thus

the connectors tend to become corroded or worn out rather easily.

I personally don't know if this is true, and I've heard some people

contest this paragraph's inclusion in the FAQ.

On the other hand, Raymond McKeithen <rfmckeit@jas.net> presents a

different take on the qualitative matter:

"From my experience (a 4+ year-old Japanese Saturn that works fine

and has never had a problem plus 3 other import ones) and what I've

been able to tell from others, the only people that have trouble with

cart slots are those that use 3rd party cartridges. I believe that

once you do that, the *cart* damages the slot, and then even Sega

carts won't work reliably."

"If you look at the card edge on a Sega cart compared to most 3rd

party carts, there are 2 clear differences. The Sega carts have the

edges of the card filed/tapered so it isn't sharp/abrasive, the 3rd

party ones typically don't. Probably more importantly, look at the

thickness of the circuit boards in the two. Every 3rd party one I've

seen has a "thick" circuit board, which will spread the cart-slot

contacts which can certainly cause a problem if a non-thick one is

used afterwards; it may damage the slot in other ways since it

wasn't specifically designed for thick boards."

-------------------------------------------John Hokanson Jr.

Anyway I know a few people who claim to have problems with the port whereas using official hardware only.

The solution to this kind of problem is usually to use one or two pieces of hardened paper (bristol sheets for exemple) and try to block the cart. Usually takes a few tries before the ROM or RAM cart is recognized.
Unfortunately, your answer is not specific to my problem and therefore of no help....

What I really want to know is, how likely is it that a RAM cartridge itself is damaged, to the point of simply not being seen by the Saturn (rather than making it freeze/crash etc.)?

Should I try and get rid of it and buy another?
CHAZumaru's reply was relevant in that if your RAM cart uses a thinner PCB than your other carts it may not get proper contact with the cart port.
antime: in my case, that's incorrect. Both my 1MB and my backup cart are original Sega and both have equally thin connectors. (I've looked.)

But Chaz has a point.... it's just not likely the RAM itself would really be busted. Argh, but I've opened up the Saturn and looked at the slot before...and can't see anything wrong visually...

IF ONLY I KNEW!!!!! I just don't want to buy another RAM cart and find it's not working either...then that's money wasted, and I couldn't even resell the carts not knowing whether they are OK or not.
Well if you had access to another Saturn that might help. Other than that, I dunno. Might just have to write it off.
the blue screen with the word 'RAM' so beautifully framed by large quantities of japanese means nothing more than that the game isn't detecting it. unfortunately, that sort of leaves you stuck, because it doesn't actually let you know where your problem is. you can try cleaning the contacts, or reseating the cartridge, as it is (like everybody mentioned already...) usually just a contact problem. however, no way of knowing that unless you can find another region-modded saturn to test the cart.

i've got a couple here, but i hardly think it's worth your while to be sending the cart all over the place trying to get it tested. do you know anybody at all with a saturn? i mean, its probably cheaper and easier to just throw a region switch into another saturn than to try to find another region-modded saturn.

you know?

as far as reseating it, all you can do is keep adjusting it slightly and hoping it settles properly eventually. sort of like the old nintendos. just make sure you don't leave it too loose, or it'll pop out while the saturn's running, which means whole new problems...

hope something here helps...
posted this in another section but it seems relevant here as well:

"If you have the 4in1 card from ems, there were 2 different versions produced, the second works with the games that are 4mb and 1mb, the first tends to not work. You can make the first one work by performing a reletively simple mod to the 4in1 card which can be found at www.icedragon.com/mod in the saturn section. Having opened up both versions the only difference between the versions is that the board in the 4in1 card version 2 has the mod listed at icedragon built in

dunno if that's what's up, I seem to recall having it do that, but I also recall playing it on my saturn at some point too (most likely after I modded the 4in1 card), hopefully that helps
It couldn't be lack of save-ram that's causing this? I don't remember how much space the Metal Slug save take but hopefully this is the problem and your RAM-cart still works fine.

I've encountered this problem a couple of times, games totally refusing to start, and once I've cleared some memory it has worked fine.
Well, I've cleared the ENTIRE internal gamesave RAM and that didn't help. So by now I'm 99% sure my cart actually is dead.

However I have an eBay bid on a 4MB cart; the auction ends today so maybe I'll get lucky and not only get a working cart, but one that lets me take advantage of improved graphics in Cotton 2 as well.
Besides, Vampire Savior is looking better and better these days. *grin*

Thanks everybody for trying to help!
Does the 4MB cart support games that only requires 1MB then? I know It sounds stupid but I don't think they do. The AR+ has a automatic switch between 1 and 4 meg, and that would be pretty useless if it weren't good for anything.
This is a far shot, but...

Do you have access to either Marvel Super Heroes, Pocket Fighter or Cottom 2 (not Cottom Boomerang)?

I have a cart 1-4MB cart that has loads of trouble for working with SNK games. They games won't detect it, or would begin to first load and then gimme the RAM error in the middle of loading.

Then I found that, if I booted either MSH, Pocket Fighter or Cottom 2 (hint: those 3 games use the RAM cart, but it's not required to boot), they would initialize the cart (MSH and Pocked fighter would enable the 3/4 MB RAM in the option screen, and Cottom would say "Extra RAM found!" in the title screen), then I could open the lid and play the SNK games properly.

Maybe you should try using one of those games, to see if they can detect the cart.
I've never heard of the 4MB cart not supporting 1MB games, certainly not according to the RAM compatibility cart at www.shinforce.com.

I do have a copy of Cotton 2 (not the others) but Cotton 2 requires a 4MB cart in order to make use of it (it allocates 2MB). I think it would just ignore the presence of a 1MB cart (assuming that presence was actually detected!!!!).

Now my question: what's that about initializing? I could swear I heard someone mention doing this initializing thing from the Saturn's boot menu (memory manager).

I did win that 4MB cart last night, btw. I just hope at $23.80 (airmail from Japan included) it was an OK deal...